As reported in our last newsletter, the US Environmental Protection Agency has extended for the second time the public comment period on its controversial proposed rule to define the scope of Waters of the United States under federal Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction.  The new deadline for public comment is November 14, 2014.  

This week, FAC submitted formal comments to the EPA asserting, among other things, that the proposed rule is a significant expansion of federal jurisdiction beyond that contemplated by Congress in passing the CWA and inconsistent with the Supreme Court in interpreting its provisions.  The comments also pointed out the unique nature of Florida’s geology and the extraordinary economic impact that the rule is likely to have on local governments.   To review a copy of FAC’s comment letter in its entirety, please click here.

We encourage all counties to submit comments to the EPA prior to the November 14th deadline.  In addition to FAC’s comments, you might also review documents prepared by the National Association of Counties (NACo).  There are a number of resources on the NACo website, including policies, analyses and sample comment letters. To access these documents, please see the following link:  http://www.naco.org/legislation/pages/wous.aspx.    To submit comments to the EPA, you may use any of the following methods: 

Identify as Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880

  • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal:

http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

  • Email:

ow-docket@epa.gov. Include EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880 in the subject line of the message.

  • U.S. Mail:

Send the original and three copies of comments to: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460, Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.

 

24 Senators Urge EPA to Withdraw Rule

Last week, twenty four U.S. Senators from across the country signed on to a letter urging the EPA to withdraw the proposed rule and to “commit to working more cooperatively with interested stakeholders in future regulatory proceedings.”  The letter states that the rule displaces state and local officials in their primary role in environmental protection, and asserts that the Administration and EPA has biased the process toward a predetermined outcome by delegitimizing concerns, misrepresenting impacts, and manipulating social media. 

Among the senators signing the letter include Marco Rubio (Florida), John Barrasso (Wyoming), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) and David Vitter (Louisiana).   A copy of the senators’ letter may be viewed here.

Kansas Asks EPA to Withdraw Rule

 

The Governor and Cabinet of the State of Kansas recently signed a letter to the EPA seeking a retraction of the WOTUS proposed rule.    At a press conference, Governor Sam Brownback stated that the proposed rule was “unlawful and unconstitutional” and that it includes “ridiculously broad definitions that attempt to bring ponds, puddles and ditches under federal regulation and could require permits for some routine agriculture activities.” 

 

FPL Seeks Funding to Fight WOTUS Rule 

Last week, Florida Power and Light (FPL) appeared before the Public Service Commission (PSC) seeking tax dollars to fund its efforts in opposition to the proposed EPA rule.  According to published reports, FPL is seeking approximately $230,000 to fight the rules, which could result in federal regulation of the cooling ponds at its plants throughout Florida.  Although advocacy groups have complained about the utility’s request for tax dollars, an FPL spokesman said that the millions of dollars in additional compliance costs would ultimately end up being passed on to consumers anyway.    The PSC is expected to make a funding decision within the next week or two.